Mediation for the Custody of Children under Native Law and Custom

Decisions of mediators in cases for the custody of children are largely influenced by the general rule under all native laws and customs in Nigeria which says that the right of the custody of the children whose parents are divorced or separated belongs to the father, except where a child is too young to be separated from the mother until the child is matured enough for the father to reassert his custodial right on the child.

The mediators may also take into consideration the sex of the children, because under the Yoruba native law and custom the female child is considered to be better off staying with the mother so that the mother can train her on how to be a good wife and a mother.

Since mediation is a win-win process, the Yoruba native law and custom defeats the process, as the decisions of the elders of the family in mediating the issue of custody is largely governed by the 'strict custom' of the children belonging to their father, without taking into consideration the welfare and interest of the children.

It has been observed that in all other mediation proceedings such as inheritance and marriage all the parties are involved in the proceedings, but in the cases of custody, the children are not involved they have no say whatever in the mediation process. This is why most cases on the custody of children go to court, so that the welfare and interest of the children can be legally protected.

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